Georgia and Turkey have "reshaped the geopolitical landscape” to ensure the security and prosperity of their countries and the wider region, connecting East and West, Asia and Europe.
In an interview with Anadolu Agency on the occasion of the centennial of the establishment of the first Democratic Republic of Georgia, Georgia’s Ambassador to Turkey Irakli Koplatadze said the two countries have "excellent relations" both in bilateral and multilateral formats, enjoying each other’s support in international fora within the framework of the UN, OSCE and Council of Europe.
"The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline, Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum natural gas pipeline, Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway construction and Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline crown a quarter of a century of strategic cooperation, with the inauguration ceremony of latter to be held in Eskisehir on June 12, 2018," Koplatadze said.
Noting that Turkey was one of the first countries to recognize the restoration of Georgia’s independence 26 years ago, he said the country also "unwaveringly supports Georgia’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and non-recognition policy of Georgia’s occupied territories as well as our Euro-Atlantic and European aspirations".
The ambassador said as a NATO aspirant country and the largest non-NATO member contributor in Afghanistan, Georgia is counting on Turkey’s strong support at the upcoming 2018 Brussels Summit, which will mark the 10th anniversary of the NATO-Georgia Commission.
Turkey is also a contributor in the process of the implementation of the elements of the Substantial NATO-Georgia Package, he added, a set of initiatives aimed at strengthening Georgia’s defense capabilities and developing closer security cooperation and interoperability with NATO members.
Moreover, "Turkey is Georgia’s number one trade partner, with US$1.6 billion trade turnover. In the first quarter of 2018, trade turnover increased by 22 percent. Turkey became one of the largest investors in Georgia with a 15 percent share in total FDI [Foreign Direct Investment]. Only during the last two years, Turkish investments in Georgia skyrocketed by 211 percent," Koplatadze said, referring to increases of 175 percent in 2016 and 36 percent in 2017.
"Furthermore, we enjoy a visa-free regime, thanks to which citizens of both countries can travel without passports and using ID’s only that sparked people-to-people relations," he said.
"Batumi [International] Airport is the only airport of joint usage in the region functioning on the so-called Swiss model, enabling Turkish citizens to use all benefits as if they fly domestically. As a matter fact, the number of tourists and visitors was boosted dramatically: about 1.3 million Turks visited Georgia and about 2 million Georgians visited Turkey in 2017. In the first three months of 2018, the number of tourists from Turkey increased by 22 percent. It is of outmost importance that the Sarpi border gate’s reconstruction by the Turkish side be completed by the end of 2018."
'A friend in need is a friend indeed'
Koplatadze said today, one century later, he is proud to say that “Turkey’s stability, security and prosperity means stability, security and prosperity for Georgia, and vice versa".
"A friend in need is a friend indeed," he said. "That is why in 2017, Turkey implemented dozens of flights to fight bushfires in Georgia. That is why Georgian Prime Minister H.E. Mr. Giorgi Kvirikashvili was the first leader worldwide who came to Ankara to hold the first ever High Level Strategic Cooperation Council chaired by prime ministers and to support the Turkish people and democratically elected government three days after the July 15, 2016 coup attempt. That is why together with the international community, we stand hand in hand to fight terror. That is why we try our best to make the region become a better place to live in."